Category Archives: Space Troops

Those Air Defense Missile Factories

S-300 Launch Canister? (photo: Izvestiya)

S-300 Launch Canister? (photo: Izvestiya)

OK, a lot gets under the radar . . . hadn’t noticed interesting reports since August by Izvestiya’s Aleksey Mikhaylov.

Sue me.

The latest is Mikhaylov’s informative update on two Almaz-Antey factories planned to crank out missiles for the S-400 Triumf and S-500 Prometey.

His OPK source says:

  • By 2014, large factories in Kirov and Nizhniy Novgorod are supposed to manufacture hypersonic 77N6-N and 77N6-N1 missiles for the S-400 and S-500.
  • The missiles will have inert, kinetic kill warheads, and supposedly be capable of intercepting ballistic targets at 7 km/s.
  • The Kirov factory will cost 41.6 billion rubles, the one in Nizhniy 39.5 (81.1  together).  Almaz will get a credit of 25 billion from VEB; the Defense Ministry will invest 35 billion.  One wonders where the balance comes from, and what the terms of this three-way partnership are.

Almaz greatly needs a new production base to field missiles for its SAM launchers.  It was planned in 2008, but the financial crisis prevented it.  The military doesn’t want to repeat the S-400 experience.  It remains armed with older, shorter-range 48N6 and 9M96 missiles.  Since 2007 only seven battalions (3 and 1/2 “regimental sets”) of the S-400 (out of 56 planned) have been fielded.

New missile production should coincide with serial production of the S-500 system (not later than 2014).  It remains under development.  However, Mikhaylov reports rumored sightings of  Prometey prototypes at this or that test range.

Over time, various officers and officials have claimed new, long-range missiles for the S-400 would be fielded in 2013, 2014, or 2015.

By way of conclusion, Mikhaylov turns to independent defense analyst Aleksandr Konovalov to comment:

“The country’s leadership looks at the defense sector like a Coke machine.  Put money in and get a bottle.  Nothing is that simple with the domestic OPK, and investing a lot of money doesn’t guarantee getting production precisely on time.  And discussion about the S-500 is questionable, it’s possible it doesn’t even exist in drawings.”

Cadre Changes

President Medvedev’s December 8 decree . . . some appointments in VVKO.

Appoint:

  • Colonel Viktor Musavirovich Afzalov, Commander, 4th Air Defense Brigade, relieved as Commander, 4th Aerospace Defense Brigade.
  • General-Lieutenant Valeriy Aleksandrovich Bratishchenko, Deputy Commander, Air and Missile Defense Command, relieved as Deputy Commander, Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense.
  • Colonel Andrey Gennadyevich Demin, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, Air and Missile Defense Command, relieved as Commander, 1st Aerospace Defense Brigade, 1st Air Forces and Air Defense Command.
  • Colonel Andrey Vasilyevich Ilin, Chief, 153rd Main Space Test Center.
  • Colonel Anatoliy Nikolayevich Nestechuk, Deputy Commander, Space Command.

Relieve:

  • General-Major Aleksandr Ivanovich Afinogentov, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, Long-Range Aviation.

Thirteen VKO Brigades

Thirteen VKO Brigades

A little additional on that westward-leaning VVKO . . . the 13 VKO brigades are only a part of VVKO, but here’s how they’re laid out. 

They’re numbered 1-12 and 14. Six are in the Western MD. One in the Southern. Three in the Central. And three in the Far East MD.
 
  • 1st Aerospace Defense Brigade, Severomorsk, Western MD.
  • 2nd Aerospace Defense Brigade, Khvoynyy, Western MD.
  • 3rd Aerospace Defense Brigade, Kaliningrad, Western MD.
  • 4th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Dolgoprudnyy, Western MD.
  • 5th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Petrovskoye, Western MD.
  • 6th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Rzhev, Western MD.
  • 7th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Rostov-na-Donu, Southern MD.
  • 8th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Samara, Central MD.
  • 9th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Ob, Central MD.
  • 10th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Chita, Central MD.
  • 11th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Komsomolsk-na-Amure, Far East MD.
  • 12th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Vladivostok, Far East MD.
  • 14th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Yelizovo, Far East MD.

VVKO Faces West

How Will They Represent VKO on the Space Troops Flag?

VVKO faces west.  And north . . . ok, northwest.  Makes sense, that’s the direction those hypersonic missiles are coming from, right?  Maybe, maybe not.

Mil.ru, as is its wont, printed a little item on military preparations for the December 4 Duma election.

It indicates 80 percent of 53,000 servicemen and civilian personnel of the new Troops of Aerospace Defense (VVKO) will vote [i.e. are based] in the Western MD (ZVO). 

The press-release says more than 150 of 171 polling places (88 percent) for VVKO bases, garrisons, and military towns are located in the ZVO.

Space Troops weren’t very big, and they’ve gotten much bigger by swallowing as-yet unclear parts of the OSK VKO (the former KSpN or Moscow PVO District) and other Air Forces’ PVO units into the new VVKO.  OSK VKO, in particular, was a large, westward-leaning formation.

Still it’s surprising VVKO’s center of gravity has shifted so drastically to the west.  One would have thought there’d be a substantial chunk of VVKO-controlled PVO in the Far East, or northeast, too.

VKO Cadre Changes

Didn’t have to wait long for this.  This morning President Medvedev signed out the ukaz with appointments to command positions in the VKO Troops (VVKO).

Kommersant’s source was mostly, but not completely, right.  Valeriy Ivanov will be chief of staff, and Sergey Popov, the chief of air defense for the Air Forces, will move to VVKO to command its Air and Missile Defense Command.

Appoint:

  • General-Lieutenant Valeriy Mikhaylovich Ivanov, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, Troops of Aerospace Defense, relieved as Commander, Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense.
  • General-Lieutenant Sergey Aleksandrovich Lobov, Deputy Commander, Troops of Aerospace Defense, relieved as Deputy Commander, Space Troops.
  • General-Major Oleg Vladimirovich Maydanovich, Commander, Space Command, relieved as Chief, 153rd Main Test Center for Testing and Control of Space Systems.
  • Colonel Konstantin Aleksandrovich Ogiyenko, Commander, 5th Air Defense Brigade.
  • General-Lieutenant Oleg Nikolayevich Ostapenko, Commander, Troops of Aerospace Defense, relieved as Commander, Space Troops.
  • General-Major Sergey Vladimirovich Popov, Commander, Air and Missile Defense Command, relieved as Chief, Air Defense, Deputy CINC of the Air Forces for Air Defense.

There you have it.  What looks like it will be a new service — VVKO — is born, and an old branch — KV — apparently will go away.  More presidential paperwork on that is likely forthcoming.  But today we’ve learned who’s in VVKO’s head shed, and that its two major components will be, not surprisingly, the Space Command and Air and Missile Defense Command.

Team VKO Taking Shape

Team VKO is taking shape according to Kommersant.  Last fall, President Medvedev, of course, ordered the establishment of a unified VKO.  Since then, it’s become clear that Space Troops (KV) Commander, General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko would head it.

And KV will be the base for the new service [vid or вид].  According to the Genshtab plan, VKO will unite all PVO and PRO systems.  And it will control the current KV, Moscow-based OSK VKO, and PVO units from the Air Forces.

The paper’s Defense Ministry source says VKO’s top officers have been identified, and paperwork was sent for Medvedev’s signature last month.  So expect a decree soon.

General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov will be in charge of PVO and PRO for VKO.  He’s a 50-year-old career SAM officer, who commanded PVO divisions or corps in the Far East, Volga, and Moscow MDs.  From 2007-10, he commanded the Far East’s 11th AVVSPVO.  He became commander of the OSK VKO about this time last year.

General-Major Oleg Maydanovich is a 47-year-old KV missile engineer who will head VKO’s space monitoring.  He has long service at Plesetsk and Baykonur, and has been chief of both.  He’s now chief of Russia’s space systems testing and control center.

Colonel Andrey Ilin will be chief of the VKO’s command and control post at Krasnoznamensk.  He served many years at the space tracking post in Shchelkovo.  He’s been chief of staff at Plesetsk since last year.

Another Bet on Space Troops

The press continues picking up tidbits on the formation of Aerospace Defense (VKO).  In contrast to some recent information, Kommersant said yesterday General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko and his Space Troops (KV) have the upper hand in carrying out President Medvedev’s number one task from last year’s Federal Assembly address.

Meanwhile unofficial Air Forces (VVS) representatives are still confident VKO will be subsumed in the VVS (in Air Defense or PVO specifically). 

But normally well-informed military journalists have consistently maintained KV will get the mission and organization.  And General-Lieutenant Ostapenko has publicly stated he already has it. 

We can’t forget that General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov at one point suggested the Genshtab might take KV and PVO and establish VKO under its own control.

Kommersant’s most recent information says coordination of a candidate for chief of VKO has begun, and KV Commander Ostapenko is the frontrunner.  VKO will be established on the foundation of KV, according to the business daily.

Three VKO command and control posts will be established – in the VVS Glavkomat in Zarya (Balashikha, long PVO’s headquarters), in Krasnoznamensk (space monitoring’s headquarters), and in KV’s Moscow headquarters.

Kommersant’s information suggests VVS Commander, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin’s future hasn’t been decided and he could retire (or be retired).

Krasnaya zvezda reported that, in his recent press-conference, Zelin indicated OSK VKO (the old Moscow Air Defense District) will join a VKO Command including both KV and the VVS’ PVO and PRO Command on December 1.

The path seems pretty clear for KV to take charge of Russia’s VKO, but the bureaucratic struggle for it probably isn’t over.  There’s still time for surprises before the December 1 deadline.

Who Will Own VKO (Part II)

Returning to former General-Major Tazekhulakhov’s article in NVO . . . to make VKO an integral organism under unitary leadership and command and control, with personal responsibility for solving the tasks laid on the system, Tazekhulakhov believes it best, in the current Armed Forces structure, to concentrate troops (forces) and VKO system resources in one service or troop branch.

The ex-Deputy Chief of VPVO then reviews five possibilities:

  1. Give VVS PVO (including air defense aviation) to KV, and turn KV into a new branch called VVKO.
  2. Disband KV, give RKO to the VVS and space launch, monitoring, and other supporting structures to RVSN.
  3. Using KV as the base, create a new branch VVKO by including those VVS forces and resources currently in OSK VKO (the old KSpN, Moscow AVVSPVO, Moscow Air Defense District, etc.).
  4. Without transferring or resubordinating any of VVS or KV, establish a Strategic Command of VKO (SK VKO), and designate a commander to whom every MD / OSK, and every PVO, RKO, and REB resource would be subordinate for VKO missions in peace and wartime.
  5. Divide VKO along the existing MD / OSK lines with each of the four commanders responsible for the mission with common command and control exercised by the RF Armed Forces Central Command Post (ЦКП ВС РФ).

Tazekhulakhov says none of these possibilities is ideal.  Currently, VKO elements belong to different services, troop branches, Armed Forces structures, and even civilian departments.  PVO and RKO forces and resources aren’t evenly distributed throughout the RF.  And some are operationally subordinate to regional MD / OSK commanders and others (RKO and REB) to the center.  Triple subordination — administrative, operational, and support — violates one-man command for the VKO system.

Tazekhulakhov says the first three variants ask service or branches to perform missions outside their traditional competence.  Variant four would require agreement on the authorities of the VVS CINC, MD / OSK commanders, and the SK VKO commander.  Variant five makes it hard to find one commander responsible for VKO.

Of all variants, Tazekhulakhov finds variant two best.  It keeps the current integrity of VVS, and cuts one branch and reduces command and control organs.

But he’s found another problem not yet addressed — how to treat operational-tactical PVO and PRO of the MDs and fleets.  For it to operate on the same territory and with the same missions as strategic VKO, reconnaissance and warning information exchange and command and control and REB coordination has to be worked out.  And MD / OSK commanders won’t want to subordinate their forces, plans, and responsibilities to a VKO commander.

Lastly, Tazekhulakhov steps back to look at a bigger picture.  Why develop VKO?  With whom and how is Russia preparing to fight?  He concludes, from all appearances, U.S. missile defense won’t seriously impede Russian strategic nuclear forces, and, to some extent, Moscow has wasted time worrying about it:

“Russians need to stop getting harnessed, it’s time to get moving, and not simply waddle, but race full speed.  The result of our procrastination is obvious:  Russia is still trying through negotiations to find a compromise between its and NATO’s positions on missile defense, under cover of the protracted negotiating process, the American missile defense system in Europe is already approaching very close to Russia’s borders.  Evidently, it doesn’t do to waste time, hope and focus on NATO.  It’s essential to take serious military-political decisions and do what’s needed and useful for Russia, without looking at others.  No one, first and foremost the U.S., will give us anything, especially in the armaments area.  We have to rely only on ourselves.  Russia, undoubtedly, has no other way.”

Who Will Own VKO (Part I)

Retired General-Major Aleksandr Tazekhulakhov – Deputy Chief of Troop Air Defense in 2005-2009 — has written on military reform (and on VKO) before, but his piece in Friday’s Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye caught one’s attention.

Let’s get to the main points of his very long, but interesting, article.

Essentially, Tazekhulakhov asks whether trying to decide which service or branch will own VKO isn’t the most expensive and useless project.

The former air defender suggests that, if the character of future wars, dangers, and threats are considered:

“. . . it is essential to give priority to the development and improvement not of separate services and troop branches of the Armed Forces, but of strategic and operational-strategic reconnaissance-combat (offensive and defensive) systems, which are being established on the basis of troop (force) groupings on strategic axes with concrete combat missions.”

Tazekhulakhov says President Medvedev is looking for a unified VKO system, while Defense Minister Serdyukov is planning to deliver VKO Troops [войска ВКО].  The former one-star says:

“Considering that the creation of a system of aerospace defense (VKO), or of VKO Troops could turn out to be the most visible, expensive and at the same time most senseless and useless project, it’s essential to review once more the existential problems and variants for solving this complex mission.”

He stresses that the national missions of VKO can only be resolved according to a common concept and plan, under united command and control.  And he argues against near- or medium-term thoughts of providing equal defense for all Russian territory and borders.  He cautions against thinking the combat potential of VKO systems might someday compare with that of strategic nuclear forces:

“No country in the world today has or can foresee in the medium-term future a missile defense [ПРО] system which would be capable of repulsing a mass (counterforce) missile-nuclear strike, or even a strike consisting of several ICBMs.  Therefore it’s expedient to limit the scale of employing VKO systems to the following framework:  repulsing strikes employing single or small groups (3-5) of ICBMs, IRBMs, operational-tactical missiles, tactical missiles, single, group, or mass strikes by other means of air attack, destruction (suppression) of satellites and other space objects.  Limiting the scale of VKO system employment will allow for reducing expenditures on its maintenance, for making combat missions specific, and for concentrating efforts on developing the most important system components.”

Establishing the VKO system, according to Tazekhulakhov, is a two-fold task. 

Firstly, PVO, PRO, PRN, and KKP [air defense, missile defense, missile attack early warning, and space monitoring] systems have to come under unitary command and control.  This, he says, is an administrative and organizational task that can and should be done in the timeframe indicated by Medvedev.

Secondly, and more troublesome, is the process of uniting the various supporting elements of VKO – what Tazekhulakhov calls the “hidden part of the iceberg” or the “horizontal system components.”  They include reconnaissance and warning, fire and functional defeat (suppression), command and control, and material support.

He claims, however, that, for 30 years, state leaders, military leaders, military scientists, and industry representatives have tried without success to resolve this problem.  It has administrative, functional, technical, algorithmic, and programming aspects requiring resolution on a state level rather than a departmental [Defense Ministry] one.

Thus, Tazekhulakhov limits his discussion to the possibilities for solving the first (“tip of iceberg” or “vertical system components”) problem.

To be continued.

Valeriy Ivanov on VKO, S-500, S-400

General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov

The Space Troops have seemed pretty confident about getting control of VKO up to this point, but now a senior Air Forces officer has taken his turn to suggest the VVS may have a leg up.

On Friday, Commander of the Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense (OSK VKO), General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov described for journalists how his command provides air defense for 140 key facilities in Russia’s capital and central industrial regions. 

At a conference in Mozhaysk to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the first Nazi air attack on Moscow, Ivanov said 800 OSK VKO personnel secure Moscow’s airspace on a daily basis, and he claimed his command covers two-thirds of Russian Federation territory, according to RIA Novosti

The OSK VKO Commander also said he expects to receive the S-500, new radars, and fighter aircraft by 2015.  Several news outlets repeated an early 2011 Interfaks report saying that ten S-500 battalions will be acquired under GPV-2020. 

Regarding President Medvedev’s late 2010 order to set up a unified VKO command by December 1, 2011, Ivanov told ITAR-TASS that VKO has already been established and is being improved:

“The VKO system is now being integrated, developed, and modernized.  We are now taking, uniting Space Troops and our OSK VKO.” 

But, according to ITAR-TASS, Ivanov had to admit there’s no clarity yet on the new form of VKO, and “our state’s political leadership will make the final decision on this.”

Krasnaya zvezda also provided a somewhat less categorical-sounding Ivanov quote:

“The Aerospace Defense system which we’re creating is now being integrated and developed.  Currently, the process of amalgamating Space Troops and the Operational-Strategic Command is going on.”

Komsomolskaya pravda relayed this Interfaks quote about the fate of aviation:

“Aviation carrying out air defense missions will be immediately subordinated to the VKO commander.  The one who directs the battle will also command [aviation].”

RIA Novosti also reported General-Lieutenant Ivanov saying the second S-400 regiment (at Dmitrov) will be on duty by July 31.  He said a third regiment will appear at Zvenigorod by the end of this year.